Opinion: Show respect for girls sports and support softball turf project

I send this letter to show my support of the softball turfing project at Brien McMahon High School. As a parent of a child athlete who is active in the NAA Softball program, both the “House League” and travel programs, I can honestly say that the field conditions in Norwalk are pathetic when compared to the other fields the travel team plays on.

I have found shards of metal in the infield at Naramake, and, along with other parents, have had to rake and weed the infields at Ludlow, Marvin and Norwalk High before games and between tournament games. Meanwhile, other towns in Fairfield County have multi-field complexes, some with proper restrooms with running water, sprinklers to dampen the infields, scoreboards and field lighting.

Volumes are spoken when I feel incredibly jealous that Danbury, Southbury and New Fairfield have tractors/ATVs to pull the groomer between tournament games: I have done that many times by hand, and it is an arduous task, especially in the heat of late July. We have hosted state tournaments on these rock-hard and shabby fields, and quite honestly, it’s embarrassing.

Having said that, having at least one turf field, with proper drainage is a necessary first step to bring our program to a level where we can reasonably compete with other programs. Norwalk High has a multi-sport turf field (but not for softball); Nathan Hale has turf football and baseball fields (but not for softball). The Babe Ruth baseball field on Allen Road has a beautiful scoreboard (the funds for the particular scoreboard may have been donated, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of so basic a piece of infrastructure), but our high school fields don’t.

Look in the trophy case at City Hall. I couldn’t help but notice that the most recent softball trophy on display is from the 2005 Babe Ruth 12U Tournament. Why has it been 15 years? I’m sure having to cancel games and move practices into the Marvin Elementary School gymnasium because our fields are unplayable effect how well the girls play.

My child will be attending Norwalk High, so she will only get to play on the Brien McMahon field with travel ball, or as a visitor for a NHS/McMahon game; so this particular field isn’t personal to me, but the value and pride it will bring the community is worthy of investment. The value for the student athletes of Brien McMahon High School is even greater. I quote President Obama, who stated the following in a June 2012 Op-Ed in Newsweek Magazine: “Today, thanks in no small part to the confidence and determination they developed through competitive sports and the work ethic they learned with their teammates, girls who play sports are more likely to excel in school,” he wrote. “Title IX ensures equality for our young people in every aspect of their education. It’s a springboard for success,” Obama said.

Please show girls sports the same respect that boys sports have enjoyed for so long in our city, and fully fund this project.

Chris Donahue is a resident of Norwalk.